Possible Colchester United starting line-up for opening day trip to Hartlepool

Craig Slater, likely to make the U's starting XI for the trip to Hartlepool this weekend

Craig Slater, likely to make the U's starting XI for the trip to Hartlepool this weekend

Colchester United boss, John McGreal, settled on his first-choice starting line-up at the beginning of this week, for the season opener at Hartlpeool this Saturday.

There are two or three interesting talking points, with regards the make-up of that starting XI, especially in terms of central midfield and on the flank.

But I would expect the following XI to be not far adrift of the side that appears on the official team-sheet at Victoria Park:

Walker, Brindley, Prosser, Eastman, Kinsella, Slater, Loft, Wright, Szmodics, Dickenson, Porter.

Sam Walker looks certain to play his first league game for more than a year, since overcoming a long-term injury.

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And ahead of him, Richard Brindley and recent signing, Lewis Kinsella, the former Aston Villa trainee, will almost certainly fill the full-back roles.

New club captain Luke Prosser and fit-again Tom Eastman look the most likely centre-half partnership, for the weeks and months ahead, although Alex Wynter and Frankie Kent will be breathing down their necks.

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The two central midfield roles, in front of the back four, demand the biggest debates.

Summer signing Craig Slater, recruited from Scottish Premiership side Kilmarnock, has enjoyed a terrific pre-season, and he would be unlucky not be handed a full U’s debut at Hartlepool.

Doug Loft, Tom Lapslie and Owen Garvan will contest the other central midfield slot.

Former Gillingham club captain, Loft, could get the nod, although Lapslie was another to enjoy a good pre-season and so might also win the race. Garvan has not looked quite so sharp in pre-season, and so might have to make do with a place on the bench.

The attacking midfield role appears to be a straight battle between Sammie Szmodics and Kurtis Guthrie. Szmodics bagged two hat-tricks in pre-season, and so is the obvious choice.

Chris Porter and Denny Johnstone are likewise the two main candidates for the centre-forward role, with Porter perhaps having the edge, while Drey Wright and ex-Gillingham winger Brennan Dickenson look set to patrol the flanks, although Guthrie and Macauley Bonne are other options.

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